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Opposing Players We’re Dreading: Penn State’s Trace McSorley

To much is expected, much is tested: Trace McSorley will be even more impressive in 2018 than he was a season ago.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley is the best, most dangerous signal caller Lovie Smith’s Illinois Fighting Illini will face this 2018 season.

In a league filled with talented quarterbacks, including the likes of Alex Hornibrook of Wisconsin, Shea Patterson of Michigan, Clayton Thorson of Northwestern, Brian Lewerke of Michigan State and a bunch of younger, talented players, McSorley is the best of the bunch.

Why? The most important statistic when it comes to breaking down quarterback quality is completion percentage. Trace McSorley led the Big Ten in completion percentage last season: 66.5 percent on 427 pass attempts. His 284 completions and his 8.4 passing yards per attempt led the Big Ten. His 28 passing touchdowns were good for second best in the conference behind J.T. Barrett of Ohio State. McSorley had 11 rushing touchdowns, second best for a Big Ten quarterback behind Barrett’s 12.

When most think of Trace McSorley, they think of what he can do with his legs outside of the pocket and extending plays — but really his arm strength and accuracy are underrated.

At Big Ten Media days, coach James Franklin referred to McSorley as ‘Steady Eddie’, not just when it comes to performing on game day, but how he approaches practices and preparation on a week-to-week basis.

The Penn State offense returns eight of its 11 starters from a season ago, and while that offensive line should be one of the best in the conference (behind Wisconsin’s and Ohio State’s), the three losses are enormous: RB and Special Teams returner Saquon Barkley, WR DaeSean Hamilton and TE Mike Gesicki. Because of those losses, more will be asked of McSorley to make plays and lead a much younger group of skill position players.

McSorley took plenty of big hits last season. The loss to Michigan State stands out as a game where McSorley was knocked down repeatedly and really failed to get much of anything going. How did he respond the following week? Sure, it was against Rutgers, but the Penn State quarterback had a nearly perfect game with three total touchdowns and no interceptions, completing 76.2 percent of his passes.

Now a senior, McSorley is a gamer, ‘plain and simple’ as Lovie Smith likes to say. He responds well to adversity, he leads his team by example and he makes magic when all else seems to break down around him.

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